An Exploration of Field-Station Partnerships: University-Operated Field Stations Located in US National Parks

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Field stations are important places for education and research that can broaden their influence through partnerships. Although the majority of field stations in the United States are operated by universities, we found only eight university-run field stations located inside US National Park System units. Nearly two-thirds of these field stations have opened since the year 2000. An online survey was sent to each of these stations that gathered data about their demographics, the opportunities and challenges of their partnerships, the details of their missions, and how they benefit their associated universities and national parks. The key opportunities of this type of partnership centered on education, research, and providing access to a national park, whereas the most commonly reported challenges included dealing with federal and university bureaucracies and obtaining necessary funding. The exploration of this unique type of partnership can inform other collaborative interactions between professional biologists and their allied stakeholders.

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